Boro’s Transfer Woes
Tony Mowbray’s Teeside revolution promised much after he took over from Gordon Strachan’s fateful tenure just a few months ago but as his first transfer window in charge begins to creak to a close, it’s not the transfers on the lips of Boro fans.
Instead, it seems as though there are more rumours circulating about the club’s financial plight than big name incomings especially after the St Tropez clad Phil Brown accused the club of not paying its players on time.
Whether it was a ploy to unsettle the squad or a leak from within the club, Brown’s comments certainly paid dividends as Billy Jones tarnished the Reds’ Saturday game with a familiarly disheartening late leveller.
But is there any substance in Brown’s now retracted quotes?
Well rumours have been rife ever since the club dropped out of the top flight under Gareth Southgate, with small sections even suggesting the club were relegated on purpose, which sounds a little far fetched.
More recently it has been mooted that Boro could be in up to £90million worth of debt and that the club are considering the possibility of entering administration before the end of the season, so not to incur the 10 point penalty next year.
Of course all of this is pure speculation at present but after Benidorm Brown’s comments sparked fury within the Boro support, why hasn’t Steve Gibson, or Tony Mowbray for that matter, come out and quashed these worrying rumours?
Even Boro’s own Kevin Thomson refused to respond on his Twitter page recently, he said: “I can’t comment on his comments. Soz.”
So it seems that this is something that isn’t going to go away in a hurry and up until now Mogga’s transfer inactivity has hardly put to bed suggestions relating to the club’s bank statements.
This contrasts greatly with Mogga’s track record of completely overhauling the likes of Celtic and West Brom, in fact at the latter he made no fewer than 14 permanent and loan signings during his first year at the club.
But granted that we are seemingly in a much worse financial position than first anticipated, Mowbray had to lower the wage bill and the likes of Wheater and O’Neil earning their sizeable pay cheques elsewhere was inevitable as much as it was necessary.
In particular the departure of O’Neil’s reported £40,000-a-week salary is a huge burden that has been lifted but the expected influx of players simply hasn’t materialised. Then again it wouldn’t if we were in such dire straits.
But surely more players would be getting ushered out of the Riverside if that was the case and the reported £850,000 offer for Andrew Taylor that came in from Watford would surely be a no-brainer rather than being left up to the player to decide whether to make the move.
Mogga said himself that the club wouldn’t be looking at Premier League players as transfer targets but more at the foreign and lower leagues for talent which is cheaper in terms of both transfer fees and wages.
The latest to be linked are Bayern Munich’s 25-year-old potential Wheater replacement, Maximilian Haas, and 22-year-old Hamburg midfielder, Anis Ben-Hatira, both of which have limited Bundesliga experience.
One glimmer of encouragement that has come through in January is the news that former Boro players Andrew Davies, Jeremie Aliadiere and Mido have trained with the club.
Mido’s controversial minor comeback didn’t last long however, after he recently resigned for Zamalek and Aliadiere has been strongly linked with a return to action with Blackpool but Davies would be a welcome boost in terms of strength in depth at least.
Even former Boro player Jonathan Greening has been linked with a return but again, with just a few days left in the transfer window, any signings will have to be made quickly.
With that in mind, let’s hope that nothing is rushed through that is reminiscent of the Michael Rickett’s eleventh hour transfer under Steve McLaren, which will go down in Boro folklore for being one of the worst big money signings ever made at the club.
The days of multi-million pound signings seem to have long gone however and if the rumours are to be believed, Gibson’s ultimately ill-fated strong support of Strachan could have been a desperate push for promotion that has landed the club in further trouble.
As a collective the Boro support can only get behind the team and hope that the Reds’ finances aren’t as bad as is being suggested and personally, a couple of good value signings would go a long way to giving that assurance.
By no means would fans be expecting tens of players through the door, especially as the likes of Rhys Williams and Willo Flood are nearing returns.
But a signal of intent that we aren’t going to settle for safety and try to push on could be just the kind of encouragement that is needed to boost both the fans and players alike.
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